An update on Diaspora

I want to talk about Diaspora a little bit more. Last night (at an hour completely appropriate to computer geeks) the development team posted an update to their blog, and I think (emphasis on “think”) I have a little better understanding of how it will work.

From a technical perspective (and stay with me, here, I promise to spend minimal time geeking out at you), Diaspora won’t run on your computer without using a second piece of software, and getting that installation to work properly is a lot more tricky than the average Windows or Mac user is used to. From the standpoint of the guys writing Diaspora, they don’t want to have to support anything but the software they wrote.

Web geeks will instantly recognize that this just means throwing the Diaspora distro in the web root of your apache sandbox and then opening your browser to the Diaspora directory in localhost. The rest of us get lost at “distro” (it’s a truncated form of “distribution”).

The short version is that somebody needs to write a setup program that handles the installation details for you, so that you don’t have to worry about them.

But this brings up an important question: if Diaspora required the installation of special software in addition to your web browser, would you still be willing to use it?

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  • Comments (3)
    • Max Bell
    • July 2nd, 2010

    And now I’m totally going to geek out. Most people can ignore this.

    But the prospect excites me, because this speaks to both what I specialized in back when I cared anything about web development and my expertise in tech support. I can TOTALLY write an installer to handle this. AND I EVEN HAVE A SPARE MAC I CAN USE TO MAKE IT TRULY CROSS PLATFORM.

    Of course, somebody else will probably do the same thing and better than I could. And I need an extra project like I need more cats.

    But this would solve the problem of “I can’t set Diaspora up as a web site for my friends to visit — now what do I do?”.

    • jane
    • July 2nd, 2010

    no problem

      • Max Bell
      • July 2nd, 2010

      So as not to be misleading, let me be clear — getting this to run on a personal system is a very complex process that involves installing quite a bit of software (most of which only services a couple of actual programs) and a couple of actual applications that run processes in the background.

      This sounds intimidating, but it’s actually something that can be turned on and off quite easily. I used to set this sort of thing up all the time to work on web page design — from my experience, it’s the best way to do it.

      But as yet, this is, effectively, a pretty new idea — it’s not like a chat client or a web browser (though once it’s installed, you don’t have to think about anything except to remember to turn it off or on again — the rest is done through your web browser, like anything else) and the only other consideration is for things like sharing pictures or video — things that require actual storage space.

      Once diaspora is “out in the wild”, I’d also bet on lots of updates to sites like Facebook, who will probably attempt to thwart it from being able to connect to them, which, in turn, will require updates to diaspora when they become available. Done correctly, however, the installation should handle web updates and merely ask you permission to install them, with no additional interaction required.

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